Breaking Boundaries

When discussing the environment, we’re most often referring to Earth’s habitable zone or the biosphere – the prerequisite for life on this planet. A delicate zone that we as humanity – and business leaders – seem to take for granted.

Earth’s biosphere is a diverse realm, from ocean depths to mountain peaks, where life thrives in a delicate balance.

Key factors like temperature and water availability are crucial for life’s existence. Earth’s atmosphere acts as a protective shield, regulating temperature and providing essential gases for life processes. The Sun fuels photosynthesis, sustaining all life forms, while geological activities like earthquakes and volcanoes contribute by recycling nutrients. Our biosphere teems with biodiversity, from microbes to mammals, ensuring resilience against change.

We know all this but are still breaking the boundaries that make life possible and our planet habitable.

Six boundaries transgressed

As an unintended consequence of our industrial revolutions and modern society, we have now transgressed six of the nine boundaries identified by the Stockholm Resilience Center:

”Crossing boundaries increases the risk of generating large-scale abrupt or irreversible environmental changes. Drastic changes will not necessarily happen overnight, but together the boundaries mark a critical threshold for increasing risks to people and the ecosystems we are part of.”

All truth passes three stages

I’m grateful for the courage displayed by scientists and activists who have, for a long time, tried to help the rest of us understand the beauty and wonders of our world – as well as the threats posed by modern society – despite being ridiculed by many. But, as Arthur Schopenhauer once said, “All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident.”

Let’s remember the critical importance of what is happening in front of our eyes with this short preview of the 2021 Netflix documentary Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet with David Attenborough and Johan Rockström. If you haven’t seen it yet, please do.

”Breaking Boundaries tells the story of the most important scientific discovery of our time – that humanity has pushed Earth beyond the boundaries that have kept Earth stable for 10,000 years, since the dawn of civilization. The 75-minute film takes the audience on a journey of discovery of planetary thresholds we must not exceed, not just for the stability of our planet, but for the future of humanity. It offers up the solutions we can and must put in place now if we are to protect Earth’s life support systems.”

Decide to be part of the solution

The latest briefing I pulled from the World Economic Forum’s Intelligence unit about the future of the environment makes things very clear:

“Decisions made in the next few years will determine whether our existence on Earth as we know it will continue or collapse as a result of human activity. The need to change the ways societies interact with and affect the environment becomes more urgent as the tangible impacts of a planetary crisis accumulate – generating daily headlines about extreme weather events, pandemics, pollution, and a mounting shortage of essential natural resources. ”

Let that sink in. And decide to be part of the solution. Because, as a business leader, you can make a meaningful difference.

It’s time to accelerate

Please explore my latest book, Better Business, Better Future, or the Better Business Acceleration Program—a transformational online program for business leaders that helps you unpack the Sustainability Revolution and discover a proven path to building a Better Business and future.

“The future is unwritten. It will be shaped by who we choose to be now.”
-Christina Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac


Learn more about the Better Business Acceleration Program here >>

About the author

Elisabet Lagerstedt

Elisabet Lagerstedt

Elisabet Lagerstedt is the founder and director of Future Navigators. As a trusted advisor, consultant, and Executive Coach, she helps business leaders navigate beyond business as usual to build Better Business and co-create a better future - through insight, strategy, innovation, and transformation. Elisabet is also the author of Better Business, Better Future (2022) and Navigera in i Framtiden (2018).